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Monday, October 15, 2012

Harper's Stealth Deregulation of Trade with China

The following is from an email that I received today from Leadnow.ca regarding  Harper's stealth deregulation of trade with China, negotiated in secret and up for automatic approval without debate or voting.
The principles of reciprocity and fair trade between countries is as old as trade itself. However, what neoliberals term  "free trade" is a thing of their invention. It is code for deregulation and the suppression of wages and workers. Thus it is code for the suppression of democracy. 
Harper works well with the Chinese oligarchy, dictators with capitalist hearts, because they are his kind of people and he wishes he was one. This may be his first step in  selling Canada outright to them. 

In two weeks, Prime Minister Harper could pass the most secretive and sweeping trade deal of a generation. This deal would pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout and allow foreign corporations to sue the Canadian government in secret tribunals, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.1

Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.2,3

Canadians have a right to determine our future, but this agreement will undermine our democratic rights and lock us into an inescapable path of foreign-ownership and resource extraction until at least 2040.

The Canada-China FIPA is set for automatic approval on October 31st unless we get the word out now that the Harper Conservatives are trying bypass Parliament and sneak this deal by Canadians. That’s why we partnered with SumOfUs.org on this campaign – if enough of us raise our voices now, we can create a massive public outcry to stop this devastating deal in its tracks.

Click here to send a message to Prime Minister Harper and your MP: Canada is not for sale, stop the Canada-China FIPA. When 30,000 sign, we will deliver your messages in Ottawa.

Alongside this deal, the Harper government is trying to speed through the sale of Nexen, a major Canadian oil and gas company, to the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), one of China’s massive state-owned oil companies.4 The $15 billion-dollar Nexen takeover will open the floodgates to a wave of foreign buyouts of Canada's natural resources.

If FIPA passes, a Chinese company can take over Canadian resources and then sue Canadian governments – provincial or federal – in secret, if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits.

Any Canadian law or government decision – even ones that protect Canadian jobs, our environment, our economy and our families – could be fought in secret tribunals outside of our legal system. Arbitrators unaccountable to the Canadian public would have the power to award billions in damages to foreign corporations if we do anything that hurts corporate profits, like improve environmental standards or slow down the export of cheap, unprocessed resources.1,5,6

Time is running out. We have two weeks before FIPA is set to pass into law, and the Nexen takeover could be approved at any time. Canadians, including many Conservative MPs, oppose the Nexen takeover, and Prime Minister Harper has just asked for a 30 day extension to regroup. We need a massive public outcry now.

Click here to send a message to Prime Minister Harper and your MP: Canada is not for sale, stop the Canada-China deal and the Nexen takeover.


Thanks for all you do.

With hope and respect,
Matthew, Jamie, Maggie, Emma, Ryan, Adam and Sanna on behalf of the Leadnow team

Additional Information

The ability for corporations to sue foreign governments in private courts, called “investor-state arbitration,” is a controversial practice built into many trade deals like NAFTA that has cost Canada millions and over-ruled democratic decisions, but none impose the level of secrecy in the Canada-China FIPA.

Incredibly, if BC tries to regulate or block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, Sinopec, another Chinese state-owned oil company with investments in Canada’s natural resource infrastructure, could sue the BC government for damages, and we may never even hear about it the case or its results.5,6

Other countries like India, South Africa and Australia are moving away from this kind of trade deal. Last year Australia rejected investor-state arbitration due to concerns that it would “constrain the ability of Australian governments to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters”.7,8 Why is Canada moving backwards?


[1] Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)

[2] Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)

[3] Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)

[4] Ottawa extends it review of CNOOC’s nexen bid (The Globe and Mail)

[5] Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert

[6] Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)

[7] Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)

[8] Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)

Leadnow.ca is an independent community that brings Canadians together to hold government accountable, deepen our democracy and take action for the common good.